12:52 GMT05 August 2021
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    Indian Opposition party leaders such as Omar Abdullah of the Kashmir National Conference, Rashtriya Lok Dal president Jayant Chaudhary, Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Nilotpal Basu, Samajwadi Party national spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari and others had met on Wednesday to discuss the prevailing issues in the country.

    The meeting, convened by Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Yashwant Sinha under the banner of 'Rashtra Manch', a confluence of different political parties and civil society members, to discuss various issues has triggered lots of speculation across political circles in the country.

    It has sparked interest because after defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in state polls, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee had given a call to all parties to join hands at the national level ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections.  

    One of the participants was Samajwadi Party’s national spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari, whose party is set to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh state polls in a few months. 

    Talking about the prevailing political scenario in the country led by the BJP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said that it’s the first time that every decision of the federal government is impacting state governments.

    “Therefore, we thought that the need of the hour is to come up with a vision which could strengthen our country as the policies of the ruling BJP government are not empowering the country,” Tiwari stated while denying that the meeting was about forming another political front against the two main national parties – BJP and Congress. 

    In an interview with Sputnik, the Samajwadi Party spokesperson talked about several issues. Excerpts:

    Sputnik: There was a lot of speculation about the meeting. What was the agenda?

    Ghanshyam Tiwari: The day we had fixed this meeting, we were clear that we will include all like-minded people on one platform and discuss the issues which matter in the day-to-day life of the common man. We agreed on the expansion of the ‘Rashtra Manch’ (national platform).

    We will see more political parties joining the forum in the future. The Congress will be included, political parties from South India will be invited. Anyone who has a similar thought process for the country and wants to relate to the issues we are raising for the betterment of the people will be a part of this ‘Rashtra Manch’.

    It was decided that we will create an alternate vision for the country that focuses on the day-to-day needs of the people rather than issues that relate to them.

    Sputnik: With so many parties on one platform, don’t you think there will be a clash of interests among the parties?

    Ghanshyam Tiwari: It is not just political parties that were part of the meeting. Members from diverse walks of life like Professor Arun Kumar, Justice A. P. Shah, and others had joined the meeting. So, when discussions happen in the presence of such eminent people, ideas flourish.

    It’s about bringing together the ideas which are good for the country and those ideas are backed by the people who have worked on such issues for a long time. I think India has a rich (big) civil society so we will incorporate such people in framing the alternative vision.

    With more participation of like-minded people, ideas will flourish rather than a clash of interests.

    Sputnik: Will ‘Rashtra Manch’ also enter into active politics to bring an alternative vision for the country?

    Ghanshyam Tiwari: Our platform always aspires to be an open forum where people from different political parties come together after acceptance from their respective parties. All the people associated with the ‘Rashtra Manch’ discussed a shared vision for the betterment of the country.

    Sputnik: How will you provide a possible solution to the prevailing issues like unemployment, price rise, the mismanagement of the COVID situation by the government through your forum?

    Ghanshyam Tiwari: I believe the leaders who are associated with the ‘Rashtra Manch’ provided in-depth knowledge of the issues which were discussed. When these leaders will brainstorm on the issues like unemployment, price rise, etc they will provide better solutions compared to the current government which is not even interested in addressing the issues.

    Apart from this, the policies formulated by the current Federal government don’t include input from those who have knowledge about the issues. We are making efforts to make a team under experienced people like Yashwant Sinha, who was a minister earlier, Professor Arun Kumar, an eminent economist, etc so that they can work on comprehensive solutions to the prevailing issues.

    Since political parties are also under the ambit of the Rashtra Manch, we will make sure that the suggestions by such people get implemented.

    Sputnik: State elections in Uttar Pradesh are scheduled in 2022, will this platform work on bringing the Opposition parties together against the ruling BJP?

    Ghanshyam Tiwari: As of now, a discussion about the Uttar Pradesh elections hasn't happened. But yes we discussed that the situation in different states is not as per our platform ‘Rashtra Manch’. We want the discussion (in India) to be on employment and development rather than anything else.

    So, if the parties with a similar thought process come together ahead of the elections in Uttar Pradesh, then we can decide the future course of action.

    Sputnik: Going forward, what will be the next course of action?

    Ghanshyam Tiwari: As I said earlier, this platform will continue to expand. The next meeting is likely to happen next month. It has been discussed that a committee will be formed regarding which a detailed discussion will take place in future meetings.

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